Inferno (1953) 3D/2D Blu-ray Review: Survival of the Richest

The line between film noir and technicolor melodrama is finely drawn in the sand, as this must-see Twilight Time offering proves.
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While the title may have been used several hundred times over since then, 1953's Inferno is a rare, one-of-a-kind contribution to the film noir genre. And that's mostly because it was filmed in both Technicolor and 3D. Maintaining a delicate balance between noir and melodrama (because that's what happens when you shoot noir in color), this scorching flick from English filmmaker Roy Ward Baker (who would later helm the highly rated Titanic classic A Night to Remember as well as several iconic Hammer horror titles) also sports the unusual distinction of being a survival adventure atop of it all. With Stereophonic Sound, to boot!

Here, the great Robert Ryan plays a Donald Carson III ‒ an abrasive, hard-drinkin' millionaire whom everyone has essentially come to identify as a complete and utter jerk. At the top of that list are his wife Geraldine (Rhonda Fleming) and a mining engineer named Joe (William Lundigan), whom Donnie-boy decided to take out into the Mojave Desert on a trip for whatever reason. Naturally, just like the good Christians they are, the pair of 'em leave Don to die after he accidentally falls off his horse and breaks his leg. But that's all past history as Inferno opens, wherein the injured man has been left to fend for himself against the unforgiving desert.

As Geraldine and Joe ‒ who only just met, mind you ‒ lie to the police and claim Don is off somewhere else in the desert, Don himself manages to crawl down a rocky and rugged mountainside, discovering in the process that nature has provided him with a few odds and ends to get through. Providing his newfound adversaries don't return to finish the job, that is! TV greats Larry Keating, Carl Betz, and Robert Burton also appear in this captivating man-against-nature variant of the classic double-cross tale, which also finds former Werewolf of London Henry Hull as a desert rat. TV mystery/sci-fi writer Francis Cockrell provided the screenplay.

While the 3D boom of the early '50s had already been in full effect by the time Inferno was made, this was actually the first title to have been released by 20th Century Fox to have utilized the famous movie theater gimmick. And though they may have been a little late to the party (nowhere near as late as that terrible September Storm I recently reviewed, granted), it's never too late to check this one out. And now, thanks to Fox and Twilight Time, you can see this quintessential film noir title in its intended 3D presentation. But don't worry if you haven't upgraded your television set just yet, as this release includes a "flat" 2D version of the film as well.

Presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, Inferno makes its beautiful HD Blu-ray debut from Twilight Time courtesy the 20th Century Fox film library in 1080p/MVC MPEG-4 (3D) and 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 (2D). The stellar DTS-HD MA 1.0 audio is accompanied with English (SDH) subtitles, and Paul Sawtell's soundtrack gets the isolated treatment via a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. Special features include an audio commentary with film historian Alan K. Rode and Robert Ryan's daughter, Lisa Ryan, a retrospective making-of featurette, and a truly amazing tabloid-headline style theatrical trailer. Julie Kirgo provides the liner notes for this Limited Edition (3,000 copies) Twilight Time release.

Essentially, if you love film noir, classic 3D pictures, and tales of men stranded in the wilderness (and I certainly do), then there's a damn fine chance you'll enjoy being sandblasted by Inferno. Highly Recommended.

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